Baxley Wants to Return to the Florida State House
Former Rep. Dennis Baxley left the House in 2007 known as one of the staunchest social conservatives in the Legislature, and then burnished his credentials in his next job, leading the Christian Coalition of Florida.
He said Wednesday he wants to return to the state House not because of a need for more social conservatives, but because of a need for better economic ideas.
“We've got to bring diversification to our economy so our people have good jobs,” said Baxley. “The business environment is the most pressing issue.”
Baxley, of Ocala, announced that he's running for state House District 24, which is entirely inside Marion County, following the announcement Tuesday by the current holder of the seat, Rep. Kurt Kelly, R-Ocala, that he'll run Congress, challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.
Baxley left the Christian Coalition last year so he could help Marco Rubio in his run for the U.S. Senate. He couldn't openly work for Rubio while at the coalition, because it is nonpartisan and can't endorse candidates.
“I wanted to do more when it comes to Marco Rubio,” Baxley told The News Service.
Baxley said in an interview that he wouldn't shy away from the social conservative issues that he was known for when he was in the Legislature from 2000 to 2007. But it's the economy that has him interested in returning to the Capitol halls and would be his first priority if elected, he said.
“I'm a businessman,” said Baxley, who owns several funeral homes. “I see things as a small business owner. We have about 100 employees – we know hard it is to meet their needs. Those things are very intimate to me.”
Baxley said the state should be immediately looking at ways to spur investment in new businesses. “You start by reviewing current tax policies and see if there are any incentives,” such as a moratorium on impact fees, he said.
Another important move would be to boost Enterprise Florida, the state's business development organization in an effort to get more companies to agree to move to the state. Many ideas about fixing the economy are likely to come from constituents he said.
“I thought, I should use the knowledge I have gained to go back and make a bigger contribution,” Baxley said.
So far, no one else has announced any intention to run for the seat and so far nobody has filed the required paperwork to run with the Division of Elections.